Virtual welding trainer gives students real-world experience

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Students from Milby High School’s welding program now have access to a state-of-the-art virtual-reality arc-welding training simulator. The computer-based training system is an educational tool designed to supplement traditional welding training. The VRTEX® 360 allows students to practice their welding techniques in a simulated environment that is just like being on the job. The machine is suitable for students studying everything from basic to advanced welding.

“Without the machine, it may take 15 minutes to set up the specifications before you begin welding,” said Tech-Labs Regional Manager Jamey Deloney, whose company developed the machine. “With the VRTEX® 360, it only takes a couple of minutes. That means the students get more time and practice actually welding.” Welding continues to be one of the top jobs in Houston, with the average pay of around $20 an hour. Milby welding teacher Lucino Moran has extensive experience in the real world of welding, having worked as a contractor doing underwater welding in the Gulf of Mexico and in the icy waters of Lake Ontario.

“It’s important for students to have experience that will prepare them for their first job,” Moran said. “I constantly tell my students that it’s important that they finish high school, because without a diploma, they won’t be able to get a salaried job with a large company like Shell. They will always be a contract worker, which means no benefits, no job security, and traveling to job sites around the country.”